Haunting voices and ladies who vanish

Sarma 7 Nov 2002English

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Contextual note
This lecture was held during B-Visible at Arts centre Vooruit in Ghent.

When the Pet Shop Boys started the European part of their 'Nightlife'-Tour in Frankfurt in November 1999, the planned duet between Neil Tennant and Dusty Springfield on their 1987 smash hit 'What have I done to deserve this' didn't happen. That the famous singer and icon of Swinging Sixties London had died just seven month before the show didn't count. After all, we are living in a media age where the voices of the dead are constantly sampled to make new records. A huge screen was suspended from the ceiling, a light flicked and on she came, 'The First Lady of British Soul' ready to sing. Dusty was just about to open her mouth to utter those immortal lines 'Since you went away, I have been hanging around'. And hanging around she was indeed. On that night, there was a ghost in the machine. If it was the ghost of Dusty, who always knew how to make her presence felt, is to this day unknown. Fact is, the film wasn't working. It stuck and stopped the show. There she hung, good old Dusty, the showstopper, suspended in mid air, hovering a few feet above ground in majestic calm, her image radiating and smiling benignly down on us lesser mortals in the audience. Even Neil Tennant, looking up at her in confusion, couldn't believe his eyes and ears. And yet, this technical misfortune was strangely becoming 'The Queen Bee of Pop' as The Times newspaper called her in the heyday of her success. Dusty Springfield was always larger than life. She was always a hiatus in ordinary proceedings. And, as we shall see, she was always a mediated presence, a spectral shape of an in-between world defying both racial and gender categories as well as the once crucial cultural distinction between absence and presence, the dead and the living.

Born in 1939 as Mary Isobel Catherine O'Brian in North London, a proper middle class girl of Irish and Scottish descent, Dusty was one of the first pop-singers to consciously invent herself. A decade before David Bowie made an art form out of reinvention, Dusty Springfield applied three or four pairs of eye-lashes to her coal black eyes. Her heavy mascara was contrasted with a super blonde beehive hairdo, higher and blonder than anybody else's. The more her fans copied her, the more she went out of her way to become more exaggerated. �I just decided I wanted to be someone else� So I became someone else�, says Dusty. �I had to change Mary O�Brian to become successful� (19). Although this is true for most pop and rock stars, Dusty went all the way. Out went Mary and in came Dusty. Brought up in a catholic convent school, she found it hard to be a well-behaved girl. Already at school as part of a band, she chose to perform a Bessie Smith blues for presentation at the school ball which sent the nuns in a fit because they thought it was too indecent. When she left school, she briefly joined the Lana Singers before becoming a part of the Folk trio �The Springfields� together with her brother, Tom.

As a presenter of the legendary TV-Show �Ready! Steady� Go!�, �Thunderbirdette�, as she was called, was the first to champion black music on British television. And she was one of the first to give Jimi Hendrix a chance even singing a duet with him. Cilla Black, one of her contemporaries in Swinging Sixties London, described her voice as being �husky and vulnerable�. It was in fact always a bit dusty. It was an alto, the lowest range for a female singer. Maybe this is one of the reasons why she caused so much confusion. In 1964, when her first solo single �I only want to be with you� hit the American charts in the wake of Beatle-Mania (it was the only British record to reach the top twenty other than the Beatles), her appearance was unknown to the public at large. �When I heard her on the radio I just assumed she was black�, Martha from the Vandalles and of �Dancing in the Street� fame, recalled, to continue �and I was absolutely astounded when I finally saw her on TV�. Lloyd Thaxton, a presenter of a then popular Los Angels teen music programme, told her on the show, that he thought she was a man. Not having seen her before the show, the gender-neutral name Dusty and the husky voice convinced him that he would be dealing with another of those then-popular teenage singers that went by such equally mute names like Dion.

Clearly what Dusty represented to the public at large was a crises of representation. Was she male or female, black or white, a soul singer or a rock lady, as her duet with Jimi Hendrix suggests? Dusty was all that and none of it, because she had understood that the Lady, she was striving to become, can only be an invention. Dusty Springfield is my first example of the Lady who vanishes the closer you look at her. As her career went along, �Her own stage image�, as her biographer Lucy O�Brian remembers, �became more outrageous and difficult to control. In building her image of the Lady, she took tips from male drag-queens on which mascara lasted longest and how to apply the heavy eye shadow. �Basically I�m a drag-queen myself!�, she admitted later.�(105) What finer example of that categorical statement of being somebody who defies all categorisations of being because he or she lives the exact borderline of all signification can there be but her first and only number one hit �You don�t have to say you love� from the year 1966. (video)

If Dusty was �the prototypal female drag queen�, as Patricia Juliana Smith calls her, Suzi Quatro was Dusty�s counter part. She was the prototypal female to male impersonator, the first that Rock music up to the early 1970s had ever seen. The Detroit born singer and musician was the black negative to Dusty�s white positive. Suzi was forever dressed in a skin tight black leather suit underneath which, as she confided to a magazine, she preferred to wear, wait for it, nothing. The rock�n�roll equivalent to Diana Rigg�s Emma Peel character from the sixties TV series �The Avengers�, Suzi certainly knew how to be our man. In songs like �I wanna be your man� she consciously refused to change the lyrics to suit a woman�s interpretation, thus speaking out what made up her appeal all along. It certainly wasn�t her voice alone which occasionally sounded like a shrill siren or a foghorn, shouting so loud until it turned hoarse. And yet, Suzi was a man with a difference. Whereas most rock�n�roll heroes played the guitar, loosely slung around their hips to represent the power of the male organ, Suzi �only� played bass, an instrument usually relegated to the background where it formed part of the rhythm section. Although her main instrument had two strings less, the remaining four, however, were thicker. Even Suzi Quatro knew that for a woman to be successful in the male dominated world of rock�n�roll, much more so than in Dusty�s world of soul and pop, she had to be more than a man. This means that a woman like Suzi Quatro threw a spanner in rock�n�roll�s claim to authenticity. Rock as opposed to pop was meant to the real thing whereas pop was merely a trivial plastic fabrication, a substitute for it, for life, an escapist fantasy. And Suzi sent it all up with one black leather catsuit that made the lady vanish to turn her into a man realer than real.

Madonna, another woman riled by critics for making pop instead of rock music, for being fake and not authentic, knows that pop deals in spare parts that organise our desire. That surely has not stopped the world for liking her and her music. In David Fincher�s video for her song �Express Yourself�, the lady appears in a double breasted suit to look like a man. In a parody of Michael Jackson�s famous crotch clutching gesture, Madonna grips her balls although we all know there are none. And yet, contrary to Michael Jackson whose penis might have fallen of like his nose in one of his surgical operations, Madonna demonstrates that balls are not biological. They are spare parts of gender construction she or any woman can strap on as a sign of empowerment. Whereas Michael Jackson still thinks he�s got balls both musically and in terms of gender, Madonna, as Marjorie Garbor has argued, knows that the phallus is a fantasy.

If �Dusty� is an invention according to the rules of the book of how to become a lady, and �Suzi� is the invention of a man, then �Karen� is the epitome of what seems to be the ground in-between, namely �naturalness�. Unspoilt and clean sounding Karen Carpenter, was and is abhorred by serious music lovers all over the world for her soda and white teeth image. Yet the songs she recorded together with her brother Richard Carpenter under the name �The Carpenters�, are full of heart wrenching yearning and longing that would never go away. Like Dusty, Karen was a little tomboy, sharing with the British singer a passion for playing the drums. �She asked for a set of drums�, her brother remembers in a TV interview, �which my parents thought was a bit dubious�. The flute and the accordion apparently did nothing for the sixteen year old girl, whose voice was soon to be discovered to be one of the most distinct and unique voices in rock history. Herp Alpert said of it, that it had �an unusual quality to it�. For the singer Petula Clark there was a �mystery to it, that certain quality of yearning�. Like Dusty Springfield�s voice, it was an alto, deeper than most women�s voices, brought to maximum effect in her brother�s compositions. For Richard Carpenter loved to drop the notes in major seventh at the end of a chorus or a refrain. Karen Carpenter is another �Lady who Vanishes�. Not, however, in terms of gender categories. Karen vanished because she was a vessel for shaping absence, purer than pure and more natural than natural. A critic once said of her she was the voice of death singing. And he meant it as a compliment. Whereas in �Close to you� the loved on is thought to be present, in songs like �Goodbye to Love� or �Superstar� desire is from the beginning thwarted. �Superstar� was one of the first songs about a fan-star relationship, the character in the song longing for the adored star to be present, yet all that remains of him or her is, most crucially in our context, the voice. (video) The theme was recently picked up in Eminem�s song �Stan�, at the core of which is as I am sure you remember another disembodied female voice, the sampled voice of the singer Dido who in the video wanders round the house to bemoan her isolation from her star-struck boyfriend. Here also, the voice is all that remains after love has been unrequited. But it is the tape recorded voice of Stan, the fan, who haunts the rapper after Stan has killed himself.

What should have become clear by now, is that all three singers represent a category crises, a crisis in representation of gender, race and desire. What I am not suggesting in my talk today is a biographical reading of the lives of the singers, although this would at least in the case of Dusty, who was bisexual and had therefore good reason to distrust gender representations, and Karen, who died of the consequences of anorexia, her body literally thinning itself to death, be almost too obvious. Although there are biographies which support my reading, my argument is slightly more structural. I would like to link the specific �Body Dramas�, as Marina Abramovic would put it, to the subject of melancholia, melancholia being that special quality that defies representation. I am therefore not specifically concerned with the issue of gender but with representation as such and the links it establishes between the body and the voice. Since their is no object to give up, melancholia remains with the subject, who has killed the thing it loves long ago only to keep it alive until death does them part.

In his famous essay �Mourning and Melancholia�, published in 1917, Freud discloses the mechanism of a melancholic consciousness as opposed to the act of mourning. In this process, the basic structures of melancholia come to resemble not only those of literary and poetic production, as has often been argued, but also and more specifically so, as I would like to show, those of corporeal practices like singing, dancing and their representations on stage. The starting point for Freud�s argument is the shared catalogue of symptoms between mourning and melancholia such as pain, lack of interest in the world surrounding the subject, loss of the ability to love, and a general decline in efficiency, that in both cases can be referred to the loss of a beloved object. After a period of grieving, in mourning the reality principle gains the upper hand. The lost object is abandoned, the libido of the mourner withdrawn ready to be transferred to another object. The mourner accepts the loss of his or her beloved. In the case of melancholia, however, the person in grief knows whom he or she has lost, but ignores the fact what it is that he or she has lost with the object. The melancholic person does not know the reason for his or her sadness � a common feature generally attributed to melancholia since Aristotle.

Freud then goes on to investigate the differences between the two related states of mind further. He starts from the observation that in a melancholic person as opposed to a mourner often deprecates him- or herself. The topic instance of the �I� is jeopardised, depleted and run empty. And I quote Freud: �With mourning it is the world that has become poor and empty, with melancholia it is the I itself� (200). Paradoxically this often goes together with a very talkative strain in melancholic people. They never tire to tell everybody how bad and terrible they are, but, as Freud shows, talking here is merely another way of not saying anything, of �verschweigen�, of keeping dumb about the real addressee of one�s speech. This is, in fact, the crucial step in Freud�s argument. Part of the I opposes another part of the I, a kind of Super Ego or conscience chastises the I for being bad. Only, the self-accusations of the subject hardly fit its real doings. They are accusations in disguise secretly addressed to the lost object. The self-accusations are really accusations that have been turned back onto the subject itself. The libido that was set free by the loss of the object has not been transferred to another object. Instead, the subject has identified with the original lost object which is kept alive as self and non self which is put down. What we have here then is a figure of reciprocity or of metonymic substitution. The subject is the object which is the subject which is the object is the subject and so on. The I as other and the other as I together with the ambivalence of emotions attached to their relation - love is hate is love � posits its own antithesis in the very act of positing. What characterises melancholia then is the instability of its signifying process, the absence of a referent which is always already also its opposite, never positive but always already negative, never present but always already absent in its presence.

Clearly what does the trick in distinguishing mourning from melancholia is Freud�s concept of identification with the object. How can this be possible? Further developments in the concept of melancholia take their cues from here. Identification with the object as opposed to giving it up after it has been lost, is made possible because the melancholic subject has chosen its love object on the basis of its own narcissism. In melancholia it regresses to the narcissistic state where the boundaries of the I are not yet clearly defined, were we don�t have an I in the strict sense of the term yet. It was Karl Abraham, a student and friend of Freud�s, who already in 1915 emphasised the cannibalistic aspect of melancholia thus developing the implications of narcissism further. With narcissism, the libido draws satisfaction from oral and anal sources which are, of course, equivalent to eating and defecating or, with controlling and destroying the object by literally incorporating it as several ancient rites of mourning suggest. The community simply eats the sacrificed body. May I remind you here that in the Christian Eucharist we are incorporating the blood and the body of Christ by eating the host? It was Abraham who noticed eating disorders with melancholic patients. Either they ware afraid of starving thus eating too much, meaning introjecting the object aggressively, or they refused eating altogether in a state of sadistic aggression towards themselves. The refusal to nourish themselves lead, of course, also to an inability to defecate, meaning in an unconscious substitution of the faeces as/for object to give up the object. The concept of introjection, which Sandor Ferenci introduced to psychoanalytic theory for the first time in 1909, thus radicalises Freud�s notion of identification to the point where the subject destroys itself. It also, and more importantly so for my argument, links it with what Abraham calls �mouth eroticism� and its corporeal representations. To link Karen Carpenter�s biography with her art and her singing, after all she died from the consequences of anorexia in 1982, would be both to overestimate and to underestimate her artistic imaginary. Her body drama is one of thinning to the point of disappearing, a drama in which she refused to take her place or to literally take up space as a grown up in the world, which in one of her last photographs leaves us with one final substitution: the mouth singing of loss for the body lost. Like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland all we see is a mouth, smiling, long after the body has gone.

My final step is now to ask what this curious object is that the melancholic person knows nothing about but which has so powerful a hold over its subjectivity to the point of self-destruction. From Freud�s �identification� to Ferenci�s and Abraham�s �introjection� we arrive at he concept of �incorporation.� In their reading of Freud�s case study of �The Wolfman� Maria Torok and Nicolas Abraham try to reconstruct the melancholic representation of that spurious object by focussing their attention on language as the prime psychoanalytic representation. It is only through language that both psychoanalysis and the patient gain access to their objects. It is a language closely linked with artistic practice because like poetry it never says what it means. At the centre of their argument lies the concept of the crypt which is also the centre of the melancholic�s symbolisations. In this crypt the pre-verbal trauma of the patient lies entombed. Since the origin of that trauma cannot be symbolised because of it being pre-verbal, the crypt and with it the tomb cannot be localised. It is the place of the subject which is a non-place, an atopia, which as Jacques Derrida in his analytic reading of Abraham and Torok�s analytic reading of Freud�s analytic reading of the case of Herr Schreber, whose language in turn reads him analytically, has pointed out does not only enshrine the trauma but also hides its own walls.

The concept of the crypt is based on the terminological distinction between �introjection� and �incorporation�. Introjection is the perfectly normal way in which subjects constitutes their selves. �What we mean by �I��, Abraham and Torok underline, �is the totality of introjections, and by introjection the meeting of the libido with its uncountable possible instruments of its symbolic representation� (68). The subject comes into being by object cathexis which are internalised. Hannibal Lecter�s nasty habit of eating his objects of desire is only an uncanny externalisation of what we all do. Incorporation, in contrast, is failed introjection. Failed in the sense, that the object introjected is excluded from the inside because of its traumatic nature. It �erects� an outside in the inside, �a heterogenus within�. Incorporation thus describes an introjection of an object which is killed while being kept alive in that atopic place, the crypt where subjectivity is buried. Think again of Hannibal Lecter in the film �The Silence of the Lambs� who literally incorporates his love objects by eating them thus keeping them alive in his psyche as dead objects. He simply loves them o death. Derrida describes the inhabitant of the crypt as �always being a living dead, a dead person that one wishes to keep alive, but as a corpse, that one wants to preserve until its death, under the condition that one preserves it safely as it is, not being alive�.

The crypt from which subjectivity originates keeps the subject moving forever searching for the Holy Grail of its self. The crypt therefore is primarily constituted by movement, that at the same time keeps the subject outside and inside the walls. The crypt as an architectural structure or edifice is therefore closely linked, as Martina Wagner-Egelhaaf has pointed out, to the architecture of the labyrinth, which, need I say it in this context?, is of course the original dancing space as an exteriorisation of the dancing subject�s interior crypt-like moving structure. In ancient Greek mythology it was the architect Dedalus who not only built the labyrinth for the Minotaur in Crete. He also built, as Homer points out in the Iliad, Ariadne�s dancing place in the shape of a labyrinth. Labyrinths were used as choreographic structures that symbolised mythological ideas such as rites of initiation which represented the subject�s path into society. The person to be initiated entered the labyrinth only to follow the meandering path to meet in its centre the Minotaur as a frightening image of his self with which he had to battle before he left the labyrinth again as a sane, sanitised and full member of society.

Abraham and Torok make their final substitution by going back to the oral implications of psychoanalytic melancholy theory. According to them the maternal breast is the first object introjected and later incorporated. The experience of the empty mouth is significant in that the child tries to fill the emptiness of the cavity with words, with language substituting the original loss thus forming labyrinthine narratives of his subjectivity, in what Freud in the case of Schreber calls �Deckerinnerungen�, memories that function as screens for further memories. After the traumatic loss, certain words must not be pronounced, words, which will remain forever entombed in the crypt whose very walls therefore are made of words substituted by words, in short they are made of the subject�s text. My I remind you again that Hannibal�s name �Lecter� also means �reader�. The multiple readings of Derrida, Abraham and Torok and Freud are of course another representation of a labyrinthine-structure engaged in symbolisations that must by definition fail. What then is the object incorporated? It is nothing. It is a void masked by words. What one incorporates is sheer nothingness, an object that was never there in the first place, that was always a phantasm, be it the maternal breast as part of the child�s own world, or be it the phallic mother, whose spare part, the imagined and desired penis threatened with castration was, as Madonna has demonstrated, only ever a fantasy, a phallus. Its detection, however, is linked with a traumatic experience which cannot speak its name because it has none. The subject incorporates an original traumatic loss and origin that had no object to begin with. That is the traumatic aspect of it. Therefore the subject can never let it go. �I�ll never let you go�, the topic of this festival, thus refers to what Julia Kristeva calls that �thing� (�chose� as opposed to �objet�) that never was an object, but whose fantasy structures our desire and therefore our subjectivity as a text. It is here that our dear Suzi Quatro enters the scene once again.. What else was she in the economy of desire that rock music structures than the original phallic mother? The dressed up women, made up of spare parts that made up her fantasised masculinity, the women with a phallus that was so neatly represented by her bass guitar, not quite the masculine guitar, slung low around her hips. In desiring Suzi�s transvestite body and her transvestite voice, which not only turned her into the phallic mother but into the thing itself, the phallus, we desired access to that thing we despite our knowing better cannot let go. Tina Turner has since taken that role in rock�s economy.

But what kind of text is it we are talking about here? In the economy of exchange Abraham, Torok and Derrida are engaged in, the final substitution, the substitution to end all substitutions, is language. Speaking and connected with it the realm of literature as the realm of language, are always, as Kristeva would have it, grounded in melancholy. In contrast to that, I would like to keep on substituting for a little bit longer. I want to substitute language or words by voice meaning not only the content of the words but vocalic qualities like timbre, pitch and dynamics. And I would like to draw your attention again to the body whose presence is curiously absent from the concept of �incorporation�, which after all deals with psychic representations of the body. Once language has entered the scene, representations of bodies is all we have. The body is itself entombed in a crypt within critical discourse, forming an atopia of movement which haunts language.

I would like to suggest that before words substitute the void, there is breath and vocalic sounds, Rock�n�Roll�s famous yeah, yeah, yeahs, and oh, oh, ohs. Rather than being trite and an embarrassment because the lyricist couldn�t think of anything else, they are the very essence of Rock and Pop: an essence that lies in the failure of language to represent thereby giving voice to desire. What the voice does is to fill the void of the mouth cavity with air. It forms and modulates an insubstantiality, a breath of fresh air, that again is never seen, only indirectly felt on the skin or in clouds moving. It is an invisibility, an absence that we, if we are to live, can surely not let go. Even before the child�s visual capacity is developed, the voice is the first sign of the other that helps to distinguish between outside and inside space. The voice therefore is a crucial instrument in defining the limits of one�s own body. Intricately linked to the body, the voice has the capacity to represent the body with specific sound patterns that are, as should have become clear by now, not entirely the child�s own. For Roland Barthes the grain of the voice, its materiality, was also cultural. One is always speaking in tongues with the voice of at least one other, namely the non-voice of the lost original object incorporated. If language substitutes the crypt, than voice makes its absence heard. If the walls of the crypt are language itself, than voice is the no-thing always remaining at the centre of the movements of language. If the voice like in telephone conversations has the capacity to represent to create and to give body, than the body it gives is a crisis of representation, a melancholic body that is absence and presence simultaneously. It is a body that is always not identical with itself.

I have chosen Dusty Springfield and Karen Carpenter because they both project cultural voices that didn�t have or couldn�t find a matching body. For me the two women epitomise the structure of melancholia not only in rock music. They are dealing with a crisis in representation both of the vocalic and the body representing something that cannot be represented but which they and we can never let go. What kind of body is represented by a voice that is identified according to cultural codes as that of a black female and at the same time as that of a white male? Dusty Springfield�s body can only be the epitome of crisis in gender and race. And she makes that very clear by pointing at the construction of her artificial body with accessories, wigs and tons of false eye-lashes that shield her eyes. We are literally staring into black holes when we try to look into Dusty�s eyes. And the gaze the holes return is unfathomably deep, a vertigo inducing abyss. If you play out the drama of representation to the very end, the result is melodrama which opens up a space for emotions to run riot precisely because they cannot find an adequate signifier to be represented. �You don�t have to say you love me� surely is as fine an example for this as is �I close my eyes and count to ten�.

As for Karen Carpenter, that 'little girl singing who sang like an angel', her voice sounds 'so sad and clear', that it gives shape to breath, to absence itself. The woman who refuses to grow up is also an old weary women that is not only close to you but also close to disappearing both literally and metaphorically. When The Carpenters did their first tours, Karen was hiding behind her drum kit not to be seen by the audiences. It was her brother who made her stand up front and sing. The incongruous mixture of Laura Ashley style dresses and the fringe of a fourteen year old girl slightly belated in her sexual development that once again threatens to cover her eyes, the mixture of a boring and bored middle-class housewife and a little girl lost, only goes to show that her voice, too, has not found a body.

Dusty sang 'I close my eyes and count to ten' in the cellar of the Philips' recording studios at six a clock in the morning. The team had set up a little recording unit in the ladies' toilets where Dusty sang her heart out. The song, incidentally a song about somebody, a lover, not going way, was sung at the far end of a corridor to the sound of empty buckets clinking and clanking while the cleaners applauded in the background. On the one hand, it surely is the appropriate sense of bathos and humour to conquer the pathos of the song. On the other hand, it is also a crucial technical detail. The echo in the ladies loo gave Dusty's voice space. The voice was spaced out and made sound larger because it came back on itself from a distance. Dusty Springfield liked as she once said in an interview, 'surround-sound'. She always thought of herself as part of an orchestra that carried the music. Similarly, Karen Carpenter's voice was spaced out by countless overdubs that multiplied her own voice making it recede onto and into itself as another voice. Those fragmented and repeated voices literally sounded as if they were coming from another space. But this other realm is, of course, only the realm of the 'I', the same in the disguise of the other: the echo. Their voices travel, they move and they move me or us. Their particular 'mouth eroticism', moving around the void, making the void heard but also creating it while singing, travels to the place of the crypt and back thereby giving voice to the crypt of signification.

Where does that, however, leave the dancer's body who traditionally has no voice but only its corporeality to deal with? If our image of the body meaning both a vocalic body and an imaginary body, a body of images, comes into being by incorporations of psychic representations of other bodies, along whose walls the own body develops as always another body, what we are left with, then, is the famous Russian puppet the inside of which is another puppet the inside of which is another puppet and so on. We are all moving along the walls of the crypt without ever gaining access to its inside. During our travelling, our bodies become cultural texts forever reading what cannot be read, forever connecting with other texts and cultural practices. Dance in general and in particular dance as a form of art, as a self-reflexive practice of dealing with the body, can bring this to the fore. Movement would then be the dance around a void that can never be represented. This is why so many dance techniques that have either coded meaning or that aim at expressing and representing emotions beyond technique leave me equally unsatisfied. There are two artistic consequences to be drawn from that. The first I would like to call the Karen Carpenter model, the second the Dusty Springfield model. The first tries to avoid representation of a body altogether, the second works within representation. The Karen Carpenter model makes the body disappear as sign or image. In a Hitchcock-like stint, it plays the 'Lady who vanishes'. Despite its absence, however, it organises the discourse as a melancholic one. The Dusty Springfield model, on the other hand, cuts the body up in parts. Out of the spare parts, as Marjorie Garber has it, she constructs the image of femininity via the transvestite. In true labyrinthine fashion, the image here takes a detour via the gay/male to land on a lesbian/female to blur all gender binaries. To my first model belong choreographers who conceptualise dance as a fleeting art form that disappears while it appears, that undoes what it produces the very second it produces it. The body thus becomes illegible forever moving the walls of the crypt which are also the walls of the dancer's subjectivity and the walls of his or her body, the skin which becomes the wall the eyes of the spectator travel along in scopic desire. When Paul Valery calls the skin the most inside part of the human being, he reverses inside and outside to describe a crypt-like outside on the inside. You can either do that reading fast like William Forsythe. Or you can do it slowly like Xavier Le Roy. In both cases you are denying an object to be represented and fetishised. It is the melancholic structure of giving everything and taking everything back at the very same time. Two: You can conceive of the body as a crypt itself. It is not only moving around the void of language it is the void itself. As a crypt signifying nothing, as the burial place of signs, as Jean Baudrillard put it, the body can forever display signs. It becomes language, words that bar the access to anything beyond. Jérôme Bel's 'The show Must Go On' is significant of this. Also to be mentioned here is the collaboration of Meg Stuart with Gary Hill for 'Splayed Mind Out'. Here, Hill speaks his words backwards thus mirroring the image of the dancer's back being projected in front of her while she watches it. Hill thus creates a surface, a skin of exchanges between language, that functions like an anagram, and the asymmetries and distortions of the body. The symmetry of them both presenting there other side is important as it revolves both the words and the two sides of the body forever round each other. The mirror is turning and our perspectives with it. And yet, we can never get behind the mirror.

As in Dusty's and Karen's 'mouth eroticism' the bodies in these examples are playing with the crypt thus creating a 'body eroticism'. They are fascinating, because they are playing with our own bodies in a process of mutual incorporations that jumps the barrier from the stage to the auditorium. Access to the crypts may be barred but the beyond of the crypt as the realm of the real is always present in its absence, which is why we can never let it go.

In the end of the concert, the Pet Shop Boys had the grace to repeat the aborted performance as an encore or, as a spare part. This time no ghost intervened and Dusty sang in true royal grandeur. This was very reassuring as it showed us, that some things are only original when they are repeated. As I am sure Jérôme Bel would agree: we could all be a little bit Dusty. Just bring on the spare parts. Get the blonde wigs and the eye lashes out and you will succeed.